Social representations within american modernism

Paula Rabinowitz

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


Measuring density: Unreal city… A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many… Vienna London Unreal T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land “It’s curious,” she said. “After the war New York… Nobody can keep away from it.” John Dos Passos, Nineteen Nineteen A man is indeed a city, and for the poet there are no ideas but in things. William Carlos Williams, Paterson We have the bright–lights, the bridges, the Yankee Stadium… Joy Davidman, Twentieth–Century Americanism The modern city, as astute critic and vast walker of European cities Walter Benjamin noted, seems at once to epitomize and refute Marx’s famous description of Capitalism: All that is solid melts into air. A location understood at its roots to be solidly constructed of bricks and mortar, of concrete and steel, it is full of the ephemera of paper handbills flying down a windy alley, discarded trash left on a street corner, myriad faces glimpsed momentarily in the flow of the crowd: “The apparition of these faces in the crowd; / Petals on a wet, black bough.” The city as site of modern life is a cliché by now. In America, modernism was always an afterthought. So, in Nineteen Nineteen, when ace pilot, Lieutenant Charley Anderson, returns from the war to New York, he looks up Paul and Eveline Johnson in their Greenwich Village apartment because they are the only people he knows in the city after meeting on a ship crossing over, flirting, and drinking together in the mad joy of armistice. “‘My brother wanted me to go into a Ford agency with him out in the Twin Cities, but how can you keep them down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree?’ ‘But New York’s the capital now,’” replies his hostess.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Companion to American Modernism
EditorsWalter Kalaidjian
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9780511999611
ISBN (Print)052182995X, 9780521829953
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005


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